Thursday, October 19, 2006

Oliver Perez: All or Nothing

When announcers hype up a playoff baseball game, they often pit the two starting pitchers against each other, often accompanied by a phrase that goes something like "it all comes down to these two pitchers." I've always found this interesting. Sure, the starting pitchers are important, but they aren't boxing each other. They are't even guarding each other. Other than a few at bats each, they won't even directly impact each other's performance in the game. Not only that, but the outcome will be decided by hitters, fielders, and relief pitchers. To boil it down to the starting pitchers is insane.

Except for tonight.

That is because when it comes to Oliver Perez, it really does "all come down to" him. When he's on (which has been extremely rare the past few years), he is almost unhittable. When he's off ... hide the women and children.

Just last month after he was acquired by the Mets, Perez faced Atlanta twice. The first time the Braves couldn't touch him as he threw a complet game shutout, allowing only five hits and one walk while striking out six. The second time around Atlanta mauled him to the tune of seven hits, three walks, and six runs in just over five innings.

This all or nothing pattern was also evident against the Cardinals this year as well. In a win he allowed only five hits in nearly seven innings, then in his next outing, gave up 10 hits and seven runs in five innings against the same team. A few weeks later he gave up only two runs in seven innings against the Cards.

The man is Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. That is why even though the Mets will have Darren Oliver, Steve Traschel, and all of their relief pitchers ready at a moment's notice, this game will likely be decided by which Oliver Perez steps to the mound. If he has good command of his pitches and starts off strong, the bullpen might not be needed until it is time to lock down a lead late in the game. But if Bad Oliver shows up (that makes me think of dude Marissa dated during season two of The O.C.), all the relief pitchers in the world might not help.

The whole thing has to be scaring the crap out of Mets fans, I can tell you that much.

No comments: